House debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Statements by Members

La Perouse United Mens Aboriginal Corporation

1:56 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Republic) Share this | | Hansard source

I welcome to the House today members of the La Perouse United Mens Aboriginal Corporation, including their chairperson, Paul Brown. These are proud Bidgigal men. Their ancestors stood on the shore of Kamay, or Botany Bay, in 1770 when Captain Cook's ship sailed through the heads of the bay and changed the lives of First Nations Australians forever. These men have just visited the National Museum to view a set of spears on display at the museum as part of the story of the Endeavour voyage from the shore. These spears were stolen by Cook and his men from the ancestors of these great Australians in the gallery today. They are vitally important Australian cultural artefacts, but they are not kept in Australia. They are on loan from the Cambridge museum, like thousands of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts. They are not accessible by their rightful owners. These men cannot tell their children and their grandchildren the story of the importance of these artefacts. As a gesture of truth-telling, as a gesture of recognition and as a gesture of reconciliation, all these artefacts and others should be returned to their people in Australia, where requested. They belong on country with their ancestors. The Australian government must facilitate, through consultation with First Australians and foreign governments, a process for the return of significant Aboriginal artefacts. I welcome these men today and I am proud to be associated with you. (Time expired)